Some of you may have heard recently that Kraft foods is about to eliminate several food colorings from some of their products, especially Mac and Cheese and replace them with natural ingredients such as paprika and turmeric. I wonder how many of us assumed that a box of Mac and Cheese had actual cheese in it? Many were surprised to find out that Kraft’s version of cheese is actually yellow-food-dye-colored crud… And I am sure we are even more surprised that Kraft is only doing this for their theme-shaped macaroni products and not for the ubiquitous elbow-shaped variety.
Another interesting and frustrating tidbit is that Kraft had long ago removed these dyes from products they sell in Europe, as EU regulations require the following warning on foods contains Yellow die #5 (one of the colorings being eliminated): “This product may have adverse effect on activity and attention in children.” Who knew? A food additive can contribute to ADD/ADHD and Kraft is putting it in their products including those made for kids?
This story is just the latest wrinkle in a long term pattern of food manufacturers pulling questionable ingredients out of foods based on pressure from the public and from activists. Kraft made this decision partially because of a petition on change.org started by Vani Hari, the Food Babe (http://foodbabe.com). Some of her other successes include Panera taking 150 additives out of their food, Subway removing a chemical found in running shoes and rubber mats from their bread and Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors opening up the ingredients in their beer.
But don’t celebrate just yet. The FDA has allowed thousands of additives to permeate our food supply. All you have to do is look at the long ingredient lists on seemingly simple products to know that what you are actually eating is a combination of chemicals in a package! The FDA tracks over 3000 products in their food additive database – some are innocuous such as salt and pepper, but many are not – ever heard of MSG? And here I thought that food grew on plants, swam in the sea or walked on the earth!
Add to this the introduction of Genetic Modification into our food supply. Would you be surprised to know that these foods have never undergone human testing? The American Academy of Environmental Medicine in 2009 stated that, “Several animal studies indicate serious health risks associated with genetically modified (GM) food,” including infertility, immune problems, accelerated aging, faulty insulin regulation, and changes in major organs and the gastrointestinal system” (http://www.aaemonline.org/) . Feel better now? Most processed foods, with the exception of those with a USDA Organic designation, contain genetically modified ingredients.
Chipotle recently announced that they will be removing GMO ingredients from their food. And in 2014, General Mills made a splashy announcement that Cheerios, the ubiquitous All-American cereal will be GMO-free. Companies are beginning to wake up as public pressure mounts. The EU has stringent GMO labeling laws, and American manufacturers have to take that into consideration if they want their products to sell well overseas.
So what’s the rub? – Like Michael Pollan said:
“Eat food, not too much, mostly plants”
Just make sure the plants are not genetically modified.
And in the words of Dr. Mark Hyman, a functional medicine pioneer:
“If it grew on a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don’t”.
JERF – Just Eat Real Food. Real food doesn’t come in a box, tub or plastic bag. It doesn’t have ingredients – the food itself is the ingredient. Eat food whole, the way Mother Nature intended it – whole grain instead of flower, fruit instead of fruit juice, oatmeal instead of a granola bar and so on. If you do buy something in a box and or a can, please make sure you understand what all the ingredients are, and if there are more than five, be wary.
Our bodies are wondrous creations; don’t feed them chemicals and highly processed or refined food – believe me, they will thank you.